Paella-Style Brown Rice with Shrimp and Chorizo is a whole-grain, healthier twist on classic paella! The recipe makes a big batch so it’s perfect for a big family dinner or for a casual gathering with friends.
The inspiration behind this recipe:
In these complicated times, I’m really yearning for and remembering all the wonderful European vacations we’ve been privileged to take and hoping to be able to travel again soon! Among them, a trip to Spain for our tenth wedding anniversary where I tried an authentic paella for the first time.
Cooking memorable meals like paella that we experienced while traveling has been a way for us to remember those lovely times.
One small problem…
The ONLY rice I’ve been able to find at my local grocery stores has been brown rice! The rice section has been stripped practically clean since mid-March but I consistently saw brown rice. This leads me to believe either a lot of people just don’t like it or they don’t know how to cook it.
Brown rice is whole-grain so it’s much better for you than white rice. We prefer it to white rice!
How to cook brown rice:
Before cooking brown rice, be sure to rinse it well. Rinsing washes away any grit or dust and brown rice seems to have quite a bit! It’s also going to help you get better “separate” grains in this dish which is important in paella.
There are two ways to cook brown rice without a rice cooker or pressure cooker:
- Stovetop “conventional” method where you use a 2:1 ratio (two cups water or broth to 1 cup of rice) and cook it covered then let it rest.
- Stovetop “pasta” method where you don’t measure the water, just bring a pot of water to a boil, add the rice and let it boil until tender as if you were cooking pasta.
The stovetop “pasta” method is my preferred method when making brown rice as a side dish or as an ingredient in another dish because it turns out super fluffy.
However, even though I prefer the “pasta” method, it does not work for paella because you want the rice to absorb all those fabulous Spanish spices like the smoked paprika and saffron.
What is paella?
Paella is a classic rice dish in Spanish cuisine that’s typically made with short-grain bomba (Calasparra) rice and cooked in a large, shallow pan. It originated in Valencia and is loaded with seafood or chicken and possibly other classic Spanish specialties like chorizo and serrano ham. Arborio or other short to medium-grain rice can be used in its place and it’s more readily available than bomba.
How to make Paella-Style Brown Rice with Shrimp and Chorizo:
- Start with three links of fresh chorizo. There are two types of chorizo–both made with pork although you can also use chicken or turkey chorizo:
- Mexican chorizo which is uncooked
- Spanish which is cured and more like salami or pepperoni
- For this dish, I prefer Mexican fresh chorizo which I buy as links from The Fresh Market.
- Brown the links in the pan you’ll be making this recipe in. You don’t need to cook them all the way through–you just need to cook them enough so they’re easy to slice.
- Transfer them to a plate to cool, then slice.
- Refresh the oil and cook onion, red bell pepper and diced tomatoes until softened.
- Add the garlic and the rinsed brown rice and give it a stir so the rice is coated with the oil.
- Add the sliced chorizo sausage…
- Add the spices:
- Hungarian paprika
- Smoked paprika
- Add chicken broth, cover then let it cook away on low for 45 to 50 minutes.
- When there is still a small amount of liquid left in the pan like so….
- Add the shrimp, cover and continue cooking until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. No shrimp? No problem! Use chicken instead.
- Add the peas…
- Cover and let the brown rice paella rest a little bit so any remaining broth is absorbed.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
A note about which shrimp to use:
I’m passionate about only using WILD-CAUGHT American shrimp for my personal chef clients and here at home. I’ll also pass on shrimp dishes in restaurants that aren’t made with wild-caught shrimp. Wild-caught shrimp will always have a superior texture to farmed. We found we could even reheat this dish without any adverse effect on the shrimp with it getting tough or rubbery.
More great shrimp recipes!
- The Best Shrimp Creole
- Spicy Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta Cheese
- Shrimp in Avocado Butter
- Low Carb Jambalaya with Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage
- Shrimp and Corn Risotto with Bacon
- Cauliflower Grits with Gouda Cheese and Blackened Shrimp
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil or as needed
- 1 pound fresh chorizo links (approximately 3)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 large plum tomatoes, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
- ½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
- 6 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 ½ pounds large (16-20 count) uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed under cold water
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Lemon wedges
- Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet, saute or paella pan over medium-high heat.
- Place the whole fresh chorizo links in the skillet, reduce heat to medium and brown well on all sides.
- Transfer to a plate and let cool to the touch. When cool enough to touch, slice the sausage into ¼ to ⅓-inch thick slices. THE SAUSAGE WON'T BE COOKED ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
- Refresh oil if needed. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the red bell pepper and tomato and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, brown rice, Hungarian and smoked paprika, cayenne and saffron threads and give the rice a good stir to coat with the fat.
- Place the sausage slices into the pan.
- Carefully pour 5 cups of chicken broth into the pan. Bring to a boil.
- Cover completely, reduce heat to low and simmer 45-50 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is very close to tender.
- At this point, there should still be a little bit of liquid in the pan. If not, add a little more chicken broth as you don't want the rice to get too dry. (A little crusty rice on the bottom is desirable.)
- Add the shrimp and cook 5-6 minutes or until shrimp is pink and thoroughly cooked.
- Stir in the peas and heat through. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 2340mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.